Battling against the cold while on the road to success

The weather during the last two weeks has been brutal for the Lawrence University track and field team. It has changed practice schedules and limited the team’s ability to go outside for their workout. Even so, the team is working hard as they prepare for the upcoming indoor conference championships near the end of February. This past weekend, the team traveled to Ripon College for another chance to compete and hone their craft in a meet that featured twelve teams.

The meet this weekend also marked the halfway point of the indoor season. “My season has felt like it is going by quick. Last year this same time I felt like things would drag on a lot and I think that’s because I didn’t know what to expect. Now I feel at ease and ready for races. I feel really strong because I had some of the best winter training I’ve ever had, in terms of the quality of my workouts,” said sophomore Cullen Allard.

For all the teams, the competition was tough. On the women’s side of the competition, the team was led by junior Mikaela Hintz who took sixth in the 400-meter dash. The distance trio of senior Molly Doruska, junior Christina Sedall and first-year Leah Hawksford finished seventh, eighth and ninth in the 5000-meter run, respectively. Additionally, the 4×400-meter relay team of sophomore Emily Hoeft, first-year Claire Schrier, sophomore Alyssa Kuss and Hintz took seventh. On the men’s side of the competition, the 4×400-meter relay team of sophomore Ethan Simmons, Allard, first-year Julian Garcia, and first-year Cole Foster finished ninth. Simmons picked up an eleventh-place finish in the 400-meter dash, while Allard was eleventh in the 1-mile run.

Sedall explained the beauty of the sport, saying, “Track and field is special because by nature of the sport you become really familiar with your own body. But even more special for me is to have watched a person run a race or compete enough in their event that you become familiar with them. You become familiar in this way where you can tell when they are confident. And their confidence becomes yours. You can tell when they are purposefully holding back and when they are going to ignite. You can tell where and when the pain will set in. And you feel the pain yourself. This familiarity is knowing what they need to hear when the pain does arrive. It’s seeing them think or clearing their mind and feeling and knowing.”

Sedall continued, “Despite this familiarity, they still surprise me. Just this past weekend we had a race at Ripon, and I found myself in awe of these people I spend two hours most days with. I think it’s because I get to see my teammates celebrate themselves in this open and instinctual way, that I’m not sure I’ve even seen from my family or best friends. It’s surprising and beautiful and although it’s a large world, I may have only witnessed it on little tracks in small towns of Wisconsin. I see them passionately scream because your success is their success. I see them in vulnerable moments of physical pain, of lacking confidence and of frustration. I see them interact with their opponents and treat them like old friends, offering support and admiration. And I’m in awe.”

Allard echoed Sedall, saying, “My favorite part of track is that you get to watch your teammates compete in their specialty before or after your own event. On special days, you can watch someone you care about create something beautiful on the track.” Quoting famous runner Steve Prefontaine, Allard adds, “A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected by in as many ways as they’re capable of understanding”

The team is setting big goals for the upcoming meets. Allard says, “My goals moving forward are to run a mile under 4:30 and to run a 9:10 3k. I think as a team I’d love to be involved in a competitive DMR [distance medley relay] this year and give people a run for their money, because I think we got some fast, young runners and relays are very fun.”

The team is excited for the prospects going forward, both this winter and beyond. Sedall explains, “This year’s track team is new and young. We’ve got handfuls of freshmen and sprinkles of transfers and I have yet to learn this familiarity with them. But I will, because we may be only three weeks from indoor conference, but we’ve got a whole outdoor season ahead of us. We’ve got things to throw and miles to run and blocks to burst out of. (Word on the street is there are some records in reach.) And soon, in the spring we’ll do it all together on the blue track across the river. You should come watch us. It might most definitely be special.”

Most of the team has the next weekend off. Expect the Vikings to be back in action on February 16. This will be the last chance for the team to prepare for the biggest meet of the indoor season, the conference championships. Look for the team to turn in even better performances in the weeks to come.